The days are passing quickly now. There are only two more weeks before we go to Japan. We leave from Sacramento, CA on the morning of June 2nd and will arrive on June 3rd in Narita, Japan. It is an 11 hour flight but in those 11 hours many things will change.
We say goodbye to grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends. When will we see them again? It is a bittersweet moment of sadness to leave those we love and joy to finally be returning to Japan after waiting for 4 years.
When we arrive, night will become day and day night for us because there is a 14 hour difference between the West Coast and Japan. The food we eat will be different. The language spoken around us will be different. The houses, people, and shops will be different. Our home will be different. Even where we sleep will be different because we will be sleeping on futons (sleeping mats) on the floor instead of in beds.
But though everything around us will be different, we will not. We are going to Japan as a family and we are doing it together. We carry in us the light of Jesus, who is the light of the world, and the love of the Father. We go in obedience to the Father who has placed His heart for the people of Japan and Okinawa in our hearts and has called us to go and share His love with them.
We are excited to see what the Father is already doing in Japan and Okinawa and what He will do in the future and how we will a part of it.
When we left Okinawa in 2011, we thought it would be for only a month while we visited family and friends in the U.S., but God had other plans.
We originally went to Okinawa in 2008 for Akira to receive his ordination. Our home church in Oregon, Japanese Grace Bible Church(JGBC), was planted by the Okinawa Evangelical Mission (OEM). To be ordained, Akira had to serve in Okinawa for three years. There, among the various roles in which Akira was given experience, he worked as a hospital chaplain, a high school and music teacher, and a pastor. Josie and Josiah attended a Japanese Christian School, OCA, the same where Akira taught high school and Melanie taught kindergarten.
During our three years there, we came to love and begin to understand the Okinawans as a people group distinct from Japan who hold an identity and past of their own, similar to the Hawaiian people. They also carry many wounds left from wars of the past. They are very spiritual and more open to spiritual things than mainland Japanese. Whereas mainland Japanese are predominantly Buddhist and Shinto, Okinawans are more animistic and worship spirits and have shamans, especially in the rural areas. They also are more deeply involved in ancestor worship. And most importantly, they asked us to come back and continue to ask us when we will come.
We had planned to return to Okinawa after our visit in the U.S. but one by one God shut the doors so we stayed in Portland, Oregon for a year, praying for His direction. Then we received an invitation to move to Kansas City and join a team preparing to go to Japan (24/7 Prayer).
We attended the 24/7 Prayer Kansas City Boiler Room (KCBR) church and learned intimacy in Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. We prayed and ask others to pray and kept hearing “wait.” Now, after three years in KC we have finally received the “go” to return to Japan and Okinawa. On June 3, 2015, we will arrive in Narita, Japan. Again, through the design and plan of the Father, we will live in mainland Japan for about a year, in the (unoccupied) house of Akira’s parents in Yokohama, Japan. We will share with Akira’s family and friends, visit churches in Japan and Okinawa and find our family rhythm for living in Japan. Then, when the Father says “go,” we will move to Okinawa.